Justin is a longstanding member of the Homebase team and our Director of Product Management. His diverse skillset, organization, and creativity are instrumental in our product growth, so we sat down with him to learn how he got to where he is today.
It’s an average weekend. What are you doing?
You’ll find me spending time with my wife and son going to the zoo, park, pool, or science city. We also go to BarK a lot with our boxer-dachshund mix, Gus.
What’s the most ridiculous thing you believed as a child?
My dad was a software developer and later managed development teams. From a young age, I saw him sitting at his computer coding away and I always thought, “I’ll NEVER do that job. Sitting at your computer staring at code, that sounds terrible!” Fast forward 20 years… I code and now manage products working with multiple product teams. I love what I do and wouldn’t do any other job if given the choice. Maybe my dad was on to something.
Have you picked up any new skills during the pandemic?
In the middle of the pandemic, I fully transitioned from a software developer to a product manager. Most large organizations have one scrum master, product owner and product manager per development team. I had to learn to do all of these roles for two teams in a very short period of time.
As a software developer, you’re kind of in a bubble. Every sprint, you’re working on a singular problem. As a product manager, you have a broader perspective. You think about how to solve problems for customers and then work through how it impacts sales, marketing, the executive team, legal, and customer support. You have to factor in all of these different perspectives when planning out a feature.
Three bucket list items?
I’m a certified scuba diver and my wife Kathryn is going to get certified in the next year. We want to dive the Great Barrier Reef before it goes away. I’d also like to backpack across Europe with my son, Kellan, and Kathryn and spend a year abroad traveling the world.
You have an unusual background. Tell me about the work you did in film and how you got to your current position.
I worked as an intern at a video production studio while I was in journalism school. Then, my junior year of college, I started doing digital marketing for a start up that unfortunately failed.
After that, I started a video production studio where I partnered with retirement communities and interviewed people about their life stories. I traveled to 23 different cities and conducted about 250 interviews over 2.5 years. I learned so much during this time, but the thing I value most from this experience was that I learned how to listen and connect with people in a meaningful way.
Sales was my biggest weakness in running my own business. I ended up broke after two and a half years, so I took a job in sales to build that skillset.
Then, I decided to go to Coding Dojo in Seattle to learn to code and joined Homebase to lead Front End Web Development after I graduated. In the past two years, I’ve transitioned to product management.
What brought you to Homebase?
I’ve known and worked with the original team that started Homebase for over a decade, starting before Homebase was even a thought. The first time I met Blake and Tyler, I was a junior in college at one of their networking events. It became very clear to me that if I wanted to do something innovative with massive impact in Kansas City, I needed to stay close to them and their team.
That gut feeling allowed me to be in the right place at the right time to join Homebase as the fourth hire.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A job is a tool to gain a skill you’ve never had.
Every step in my career, I took on roles where I had the opportunity to learn a critical skill to help me understand how people and business work. At times, I was paid less or even went broke in the process, but every job I’ve done was to develop a skill that would help me in the future.
Homebase brings the smart apartment experience to new build and retrofit multifamily with trusted technology that delivers intuitive building access control with smart locks, automation of property management, new revenue with property-wide WiFi, and IoT technology amenities residents enjoy. All completely installed and managed for the multifamily innovation leaders of this decade.